From about 1817, generally, till the City organization in 1834, embracing Proprietors' titles—
FOR the first few years the town improved rapidly. Emigrants flowed in apparently from all quarters, and the improvements and general business of the place kept pace with the increase of population. Columbus, however, was a rough spot in the woods, off from any public road of much consequence. The east and west travel passed through Zanesville, Lancaster and Chillicothe; and the mails came to Columbus by cross lines, on horseback. The first successful attempt to carry a mail to and from Columbus, otherwise than on horseback, was by Philip Zinn about the year 1816, once a week between Chillicothe and Columbus.
Proprietors of the town usually made their sales
of lots by title bond. Upon receiving a third, fourth or fifth of the price agreed upon in hand, and annual notes for the balance without interest if punctually paid, otherwise to bear interest from date, they executed a bond binding themselves to make a deed when the notes were paid; and it frequently happened that after one or two payments and a small improvement had been made, the whole would fall back to the proprietors. The lost for sale all being in the hands of the proprietors, and their giving time on the payments, kept up the prices at from two to five hundred dollars on any part of the town plat, and prices did not fall much below this until after the year 1820, when owing to the failure of two of the proprietors, McLaughlin and Johnston, as also of numerous other individuals who had possessed themselves of lots, there was such an immense number offered at forced sales by the United States Marshal and Sheriff, and so very little money in the country, that after being appraised and offered, and reäppraised and offered again and again, they finally had to sell. And lots which had years before been held at two and tree hundred dollars, were struck off and sold at from ten to twenty dollars, and sometimes lower, even down to seven or eight dollars, for a lot in the extremities of the plat.
To add to the depression of business and price of
property, about the year 1822 or 1823, the title of Starling's half section, on which the town was in part located, was called in question. It had originally been granted to one Allen, a refugee from the British Provinces in the time of the American Revolution. Allen had deeded it to his son, and the son had mortgaged it, and it was sold at Sheriff's sale to satisfy the mortgage, and Starling was the purchaser.
It was now claimed by the heirs of Allen, who took various exceptions the Starling's title. First as to the sale from the old man Allen to his son; also to the authentication of the mortgage by the son, and particularly to the sale of the Sheriff to Starling, on the ground that there was no evidence that an appraisement had been made as required by the statutes of Ohio, and suit was brought by ejectment against some of the occupants who owned the most valuable improvements, first in the Supreme Court of Ohio, and then in the United States Court for the District of Ohio.
Mr. Starling defended the suits, and first engaged Henry Clay, who then practiced in the United States Courts at Columbus, as attorney. But owing to his appointment as Secretary of State, he was called to Washington City, and gave up the case, and Henry Baldwin, the of Pittsburgh, was next engaged, who conducted the defense with great ability, and about the
year 1826, it was finally decided in favor of Starling's title. So the matter was put to rest as to that half section.
The suit against Starling's half section was scarcely decided, when a claim was set up against Kerr and McLaughlin's half section. They had bought from one Strawbridge, who conveyed by an attorney or agent, and the deed ran thus: That the agent conveyed for Strawbridge, instead of Strawbridge conveying by agent, and was so signed: "J____ M____ (the agent), [seal], Attorney in fact for Strawbridge.
Thus the defect in Kerr and McLaughlin's title was merely technical. But it was contended that this was not Strawbridge's deed, but the deed of the agent who claimed no title.* And about the year 1826, a quitclaim was obtained from Strawbridge's heirs, by some man purporting to be a New Yorker, upon which a suit was brought in ejectment, as in other cases, against one or more of the occupants of the most valuable lots. But by a suit in chancery to quiet title about the year 1827, this was all set right, and the title of Kerr and McLaughlin sustained
* In March, 1851, an act was passed by the Legislature of Ohio to remedy such defects in conveyances, by which this technical distinction under the common law has been abolished.
The years 1819 and 1820, to 1826, were the dullest years on Columbus. But soon after this Columbus began to look up again. The location of the national road and the Columbus feeder to the Ohio Canal gave an impetus to improvements, and by the year 1830, the prices of property and the improvements of the town have very considerably advanced.
Although Columbus always possessed a reasonable amount of wealth and of money-makng talent, the attention of its capitalists never was until of late years much turned towards manufacturing, but more directed to speculating upon the productions of others, by buying, selling, etc., than to creating new or additional wealth. The early efforts in the way of mills and manufactories, further than the common branches of mechanism, generally failed, either for want of capital or want of judgment and skill in their construction and management. The first mill erected within our present city limits was a saw mill on the Scioto, some ten or fifteen rods below where the Penitentiary now is, in 1813, by John Shields and Richard Courtney. It passed through several hands in a few years — was considered a good property, but soon went to ruin, and for the last twenty years or more not a vestige of its remains has been perceivable.
About the year 1816, the same John Shields erected
a flouring mill, on the run at the south-west corner of the town, a few rods west of Ball's tannery. The water was brought from east of High street in a race along the side of the bank, near the south end of Hoster's brewery, and let on to an overshot wheel. This mill, after standing some twelve or fifteen years, and being owned by several individuals in succession, was suffered to go to ruin, and there have been no remains of it perceivable for many years.
Along this hollow have been in succession a number of breweries, distilleries, tanyards and ashery, that have disappeared.At the present time there are two large breweries, one owned by Messrs. Hoster & Silbernagle, and the other by John Blenkner, and some three or four tanneries.
In 1819, Moses Jewett, Caleb Houston, and John E. Bakererected on the Scioto, just above Rich street, a saw mill upon a new patent plan. The saw was circular, and was to cut constantly ahead with no back strokes. It was an experiment, and cost them a good deal, without ever answering any valuable purpose.
In 1821, Col. Jewett and Judge hines commenced the manufacturing of cotton yarn by horse power in a frame building on Front street, between Rich and Friend; and after experimenting with that some time, and also with the circular saw in the mill, the spinning
machinery was removed into the mill, where the spinning was continued by water power a few years. But finally the whole concern was abandoned, and for near twenty years there has not been a vestige of the building to show where it stood. The frame on Front stree where they first commenced the cotton spinning was for many yearsknown as the "old factory."
About this time, Judge Hines having invented a machine for dressing hemp, in an unrotted state, in 1822 he and Wm. Bain constructed and put in operation one of the machines at the south-east corner of High street and South Public Lane. It was propelled by horse power, on a tread wheel. It after some time passed into the hands of Lafayett Tibbitts, who worked it until the fall of 1824, when he failed, and the whole concern went down.
About the year 1822, a woolen factory, for carding, spinning and weaving, was commenced by Ebenezer Thomas and others, on the west end of the lot now owned by Col. S. W. Andrews, corner of High and Noble streets. Ir was worked by hose power on a tread wheel. It passed through the hands of different owners, without profits to any. About the year 1834 or '35, the building and machinery were removed, and reërected by George Jeffries, on the west abutment of the canal dam, where it was worked by water power, some two or three years,
when the machinery was sold out by piece meal, under the hammer; and so ended that manufacturing establishment.
About the year 1831 or '32, John McElvain erected a steam saw mill at the head of the canal, where Hunter's ware house afterward stood. It was worked by different persons (it is believed without much profit) for some seven or eight years, when the engine and the machinery were disposed of, and the ware house erected over it—the mill frame answering as part of the ware house. In 1843, the ware house was totally consumed by fire, but was subsequently rebuilt. The first successful manufacturing establishment, other than common mechanic shops, was the foundry and plow manufactory of Mr. Ridgway, established in 1822.
In 1824, the county seat was removed from Franklinton toe Columbus; and the courts were held in the U. S. Court House until 1840. The Court of Common Pleas then (1824) was composed of Gustavus Swan, President and Edward Livingston, Samuel G. Flenniken, and Arora Buttles, Associates; A. L. McDowell, Clerk; and Robert Brotherton, Sheriff.
As already observed, the original town was laid out in 1812. In the summer of 1814, John McGown'a addition was laid out, and called "South Columbus"—surveyed and platted by John Shields.
In 1830, the wharf lots were laid out by order of the town council. They are, and must remain, city property.
in 1831, a few lots were laid out by John Young, and called, "Young's Addition."
In 1832, a five acre lot of land near the head of the canal, owned by John McElvain and others, was laid out into lots, and called the "McElvain's Addition."
In February, 1833, Otis and Samuel Crosby's, first addition (between Town and South streets) was laid out; and in November of the same year, their second addition (between South stree and South Public Lane) was also laid out.
About the years 1831 and '32, Robert Brotherton and John M.Walcutt, who owned a few acres of an original reserve, sold out some building lots on Town street, which was generally called "Brotherton and Walcutt's addition." They did not have their lots platted, but sold by metes and bounds, as lands are conveyed. The lots, however, were subsequently platted, agreeably to the sales, and recorded.
In the same year, 1835, Matthew Gilbert's addition was laid out.
heirs, laid out into lots what they called on their recorded plat, "The allotment of the central reservation," but which was more commonly called "Kelley and Northrup's addition." Since which there have been som many small additions, and sub-divisions of out-lots into building lots, that it would be more tedious than interesting to trace them any further.
Of the four original proprietors, John Kerr died in 1823, leaving a young family, and a large estate; which, however, did not long remain with his heirs, after they arrived at age.
Alexander McLaughlin failed in business about the year 1820, and never again rose from his fallen fortune. He had once been considered amongst the wealthiest men of the State. In his latter years, he obtained a support by teaching a common country school. He was a sensible man, with a fine business education and qualifications; but he had over-reached himself before the depression of business and prices of real estate, which took place from 1817 or '18, to 1824 and '25, and his large landed estate was sold under the hammer (figuratively speaking) for a mere song. He died about the year 1832 or '33.
James Johnston, commonly called Col. Johnston, failed about th same time, and in the same way as Mr. Mclaughlin. He left Columbus, and went to Pittsburg
to live, about the year 1820, where he remained the balance of his life, and died in the summer of 1842, at a very advanced age.
Lyne Starling, the surviving one of the four, after the settlement of the proprietors' accounts with the State, and amongst themselves, abou tht year 1818, or '20, made a pleasure tour through Europe, and then returned and spent the balance of his life principally in Columbus. He lived a bachelor, and died quite whealthy, in the fall of 1848, aged sixty-five years. He had some half dozen years before his death donated $35,000 to the erection of Starling Medical College, and was in return complimented by having the College named after him.
John McGown, proprietor of South Columbus, died in the summer of 1824, in the 75th year of his age.
On the 4th of July, 1825, a celebration of the commencement of the Ohio Canal, took place at Licking Summit, at which Governor Clinton, of New York, pursuant to invitation, attended, accompanied by Solomon Van Rensselaer, and Messrs. Rathbone and Lord, who made the first loan to the State for canal purposes. On the Wednesday following, Governor Clinton was escorted into Columbus by Gen. Warner and suite, Col. P. H. Olmsted's squadron of cavalry, apt. Hazel's light infantry, apt. Andrew MeElvain's rifle corps, and Capt.
To which Gov. Clinton made an appropriate reply, eulogizing our State, and our canal enterprise, and closing with this sentence: "In five years it may, and probably will be completed, and I am clearly of the opinion, that in ten years after the consummation of this work, it will produce an annual revenue of at least a million dollars; and I hope this remark may be noted, if any thing I say shall be deemed worthy of particular notice, in order that its accuracy may be tested by experience."
Alas, for the Governor's prediction! Gov. Clinton was, perhaps, one of our most able and practical statesmen. But his prediction here only shows th truth of the old saying, "that it is the easiest thing in the world to be mistaken;" and that the predictions of those, however high in position, who with confidence attempt to peer far into the future, should always be received with great caution.
At the conclusion of the ceremonies at the State House, Gov. Clinton was escorted to Mr. Robinson's tavern, sign of the Golden Bell, on the lot where the Johnston Building is now erected, and partook of a public dinner.
At the session of 1833-34, the Clinton Bank of Columbus was chartered, and in October, 1834, the first Board of Directors was elected, and consisted of Wm. Neil, Christopher Neiswanger, David W. Deshler, Demas Adams, John Patterson, Jesse Stone, Noah H. Swayne, Joseph Ridgway, Bela Latham, William S. Sullivant, William Miner, O. W. Sherwood and Nathaniel Medberry.
William Neil was elected president, and John Delafield, jr., Cashier. Mr. Neil continued President until January, 1846, when he was succeeded by William S. Sullivant, who was continued as President until the charter expired, first of January, 1854. Mr. Delafield was succeeded as Cashier by John E. Jeffords, in January 1838. Mr. Jeffords died in April, 1842, and David W. Deshler was then appointed Cashier, and continued until the expiration of the charter. During the last nine or ten years of the bank, W. G. Deshler served as teller, and David Overdier as book-keeper.
After the expiration of the charter, some half dozen of the principal stockholders in the old bank formed themselves into a new private banking company, and continued to do business as such in the same room. They
style their institution "Clinton Bank," merely dropping from the old name the words "of Columbus." They redeem the notes of the old Clinton Bank of Columbus.
In the summer of 1833, the cholera made its first appearance in Franklin County. It fist broke out in the early part of the summer, in a neighborhood on the canal, in Madison Township, where it proved very fatal, but was confined to the space of a few miles only. On the 14th of July, it made its first appearance in Columbus, and continued until about the first of October. A Mr. Stagg, who resided at the west end of Rich street, opposite the Jewett block, was the first victim. During its prevalence, there were about two hundred deaths in Columbus, notwithstanding the whole population of the town was not much, if any, over three thousand, and it was supposed that one third had fled to the country. Much sickness from fevers also prevailed at the same time, and one disease would frequently run into another, so that in many cases it was impossible to determine to what disease to attribute the death of the patient; though it is believed that about two-thirds of the deaths were attributable to cholera. Out of the whole number, the Board of Health discriminated one hundred as being of cholera proper. The number that was more or less attributable to cholera, has been variously estimated at from one hundred to one hundred and
fifty. The mortality and terror of this season far surpassed any pestilence that ever afflicted Columbus, before or since. Other parts of the county, beside the town and the neighborhood above alluded to, were not more sickly than ordinary seasons.
Among those who fell victims to the epidemic, were the following well known citizens: The Horton Howard family, consisting of the old gentleman, his wife and daughter; two grand children, and son-in-law, Mr. Little; James Woods and wife, C. C. Beard and wife, Ebenezer Thomas, Wiliam John, John B. Compston, Benjamin Sweetzer, Henry Jewett, Nimrod Rochester, Mr. White, coachmaker, and his wife, and Mrs. Zachariah Mills.
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